Wednesday, April 21, 2010
So, yesterday I'm G-chatting with Michael Kentoff, singer for The Caribbean, and he's bellyaching about...well. ...Let's let him tell it... —Ed.
As anyone who knows me can readily report, I am a control freak. Acts of God should be manageable by some decent planning, iron will, and, if necessary, a tantrum of some kind. The Icelandic Volcanic Cloud epic has pierced every vulnerable space in my troubleshooting, problem-solving armor (or, if you'd rather, armour). If I get through this, I pledge to work diligently on conquering the elements, altering weather patterns, and manipulating time and space in a way that serves mankind and relieves me of stress (not necessarily in that order). Needless to say (perhaps), being stranded anywhere -- even a city as fabulous as London -- would test my me-ness and, I'm here to report, it's an interesting test that I have both failed and passed. Interesting to me, anyway -- I'm stranded an ocean away from home and have lost my barometer of time, mood, and entertainment value.
My wife Maureen and I had planned a quick UK trip around an academic conference she was attending and speaking at in Liverpool. I'm very busy at work, so it had to be quick. 3 days of time out of the office is what I allowed myself. It bummed us out a little because we really wanted more time to explore London, but work is work and we could always visit another time.
When we arrived at Immigration at Heathrow on Thursday, we were told we were one of the last flights in, which mystified us until it was explained that some Icelandic volcano (I will call her Bjork) spewed so much ash into the air that all UK airspace was closed. We figured it would have no bearing on our return trip the following Monday. Went to Liverpool. Slept on the train, drank beer and ate some crisps. Liverpool is a GREAT city and, meeting up with my friend Peter Cruttenden (attending University of Nottingham), we checked the old place out and had a few pints (of beer). Peter & I ran into a hen party at the Cavern, which involved about 30 girls and women wearing rabbit ears, matching black t-shirts, getting drunk, and dancing around drunker men who were happy to tear off their shirts and roll around on a grime-covered floor.
The next day, he & I toured The Beatles' childhoods and learned about the history of Liverpool (dirty secret: the money came from the slave trade -- Mr. Penny was among the most successful people merchants of his day). Had a drink with our wonderous guide Danny, made good friends with the Verger of St. Peters (where Eleanor Rigby is buried and Paul met John). Turns out he's a Redskins fan and his father is one of the legendary coaches in all of English football history (Liverpool FC). I have a new friend in the Anglican Church, although I had to look up what a verger was.
When we arrived in London for our one day tease of the town, we soon discovered that we might have a little more time here than we'd planned. Our Monday flight was soon canceled and the soonest we could fly back is ... this Saturday! That's the best case scenario. Being prone to mania, I flipped out. Short on medicine. Trapped. Do we have a place to stay? Then I realized (with help from my wife) that the situation was beyond our control and we were in one of the coolest cities in the world. So: fucking deal with it. I re-filled my meds, which involved visiting a Doctor's office, talking to the receptionist for 5 minutes, and promptly receiving prescription slips (without ever seeing a Doctor or showing any ID) for 25 pounds. Socialized medicine kicks ass! I WANT IT!
We watch Caps games on laptop from midnight-to-3pm and basically wander around London (magnificent weather) getting lost, alone and together. Might see some bands (Broadcast, Beak, our Hometapes labelmates Bear in Heaven). Maureen has talked me into seeing the new production of Hair. Important Important Important: We discovered that fish and chips is fucking worthless without mushy peas. What else? Our cab driver yelled "Go You Spurs!" out the window today. Why? "That was Noel Gallagher, 'e's a City fan. Tottenham and Man City are up for 4th on the table, so I gave him one. 'e lives right around here." I wanted him to stop the cab so I could slap Gallagher in the face (I am bigger than he is and make better records, so I have the right). I've spent much of my time here tweeting (michaelcarib) and buying records (naturally). The following is an Act of God/No Fly Playlist made up of the various odds and ends I've bought to keep the ADHD, anxiety-laden traveler even-keeled.
1. Brigas nunca mais - Joao Gilberto
2. You Belong to Me - Jim Reeves
3. Curves of the Needle - Field Music
4. Lily Pond - Vashti Bunyan
5. If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up - Betty Davis
6. BBC 1+2 - John Baker
7. Carpet Crawlers - Genesis
8. Aaja Re Pardesi - Lata Mangeshkar
9. The Dynamites - King Tubby's City Dub
10. Salisbury Plain - Shirley & Dolly Collins
11. Do You Remember Walter - The Kinks
12. Has He Got a Friend For Me - Richard & Linda Thompson
13. Set Phazer to Stun - The Time and Space Machine
14. Lover of Mine - Beach House
I have a full-on British accent and call everyone Loov. It's frightening to be stranded, but I've always held that The Caribbean is an English group who happened to have grown up in the States, so I feel strangely at home. But, really, I'm dying to come home. I love and miss DC. Mo and I miss our friends, our cats, even our jobs. So, while we suffer terribly here in London, gather the above songs anyway you can, close your eyes, and say a prayer for us. Try to think of us eating Indian food, fish and chips with proper mushy peas, Thai noodle boxes, drinking pints of bitters, and pray for us. Hard.
Your Grounded Correspondent,
Michael Kentoff of The Caribbean
Posted by Jon at 8:24 AM